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I'd like to see this for myself. Elsewhere in the series, whenever history become contentious (as it often does) the authors have been impeccable (IMO) in showing both sides of the coin. I hope this proves just as true when it comes to more contemporary history.

 

Bill

 

The more I read, the more I think this is where the series falls down. I do think it is harder to be objective about history you lived through and have personal experience and opinions about. I find fewer problems in the older titles. Most of my hmmmm-ing has come in the WWII and beyond books. Or maybe I am just more aware of current events and don't know enough about things before 1900 to catch the bias.

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Hard to judge on bullet-points, but I'm not seeing much here that looks problematic. One point looks potentially "off" to me (and this may be more elaborated upon in the text) and that is the suggestion that his foreign policy may have been a departure from 30 years of "containment" policy towards the USSR.
Aside from Granda and the aggressive stationing of missiles in Britain and western Europe, nothing other than rhetoric is noted... the whole "Evil Empire" deal.

 

And actually the scariest moment in Mr Reagan's presidency for national security types was when he met with Gorbachev in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1986 where Reagan proposed to share "Star Wars" technology with the Soviets and also proposed that both sides destroy all their nuclear weapons.
A paragraph is given to SDI in The Middle Road.

 

In The United States in the Cold War, Iran-Contra makes another appearance, this time saying "the record seems to show that Reagan knew and approved of the operation. Many of his officials were eventually indicted for crimes committed in the affair but Reagan was never charged."

 

and later... (after a bit about Gorbachev):

"Summit meetings between Reagan and Gorbachev were arranged. Surprisingly, Ronald Reagan for all his thunderings about the evil empire, began to agree that the two systems could live together. He tended to think in terms of personalities, rather than ideas, and took to the warm, outgoing Gorbachev. Some progress was made toward getting rid of nuclear weapons."

 

Later: "Why did the Sovet Union collapse so swiftly?"

 

"In part it was due to the pressure of the Cold War itself, which required those enormous expenditures for military power. The Soviet industrial machine was simply not capable of producing as much as the American one did." [snip more depth and detail]

 

"Most Socialist nations nationalized only the most basic industries ... The Soviets tried to run the whole thing." [examples of poor organization and central planning]

 

"Finally, under Soviet communism few people worked their hardest." [explains why and ends with the joke "We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us."]

 

-- another reason was the gap between the lifestyle of officials "while everybody else struggled"

 

-- "prosperity of the Western democracies was the envy of people in communist nations" [followed by two paragraphs of discussion]

 

-- "perhaps most important, the nature of capitalism had changed, at least in some respects" followed by a recap of the origin of communism and the working conditions of the time, compared and contrasted to better working conditions for those in modern democracies "often with much struggle" through "unions and the power of the vote."

Edited by nmoira
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I guess I just assume that there are always people on both sides of an issue that feel strongly about a certain policy. If a person picks up on the fact that the author agrees, then the book is a perfect fit. If the person picks up that the author disagrees, the book is not a perfect fit.

 

For example, there are those who see increasing the amount of money spent on social programs as good and those who see it as bad. I'm speaking very simplistically here, but I think you get the point.

 

When I read a textbook, and the author states that affirmative action programs are an improvement, the author has made a judgment call. When an author insists that a certain president was a good president, the author has made a judgment call. I think it's very hard for authors not to do this.

 

No, you are right. This is an issue. For myself, I think I will post a thread on the general forum asking for suggestions for American history resources. I would like them from both sides (not ends!) of the spectrum and to be well-written. Kind of a Spy Car's best history recommendation and pqr's best history recommendation. Something like that. I would like to fact/opinion check my kids' resources against some top-notch resources of my own. Do you think that's a workable plan or a bit naive?:001_huh:

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No, you are right. This is an issue. For myself, I think I will post a thread on the general forum asking for suggestions for American history resources. I would like them from both sides (not ends!) of the spectrum and to be well-written. Kind of a Spy Car's best history recommendation and pqr's best history recommendation. Something like that. I would like to fact/opinion check my kids' resources against some top-notch resources of my own. Do you think that's a workable plan or a bit naive?:001_huh:

 

Are you asking someone to prescribe a history curriculum? :lol:

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I know you all have better things to do with your weekend; however, I am willing to read a book over the weekend and report back. We could divvy them up...or not.:tongue_smilie: It would be good to have a mix of viewpoints.

 

This would be fabulous!

 

--Rebecca (who has no DofAH book to read but loves listening to the rest of you hash it out. :D)

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What you are saying is if I ask for American history books for me to read I may get more than I bargained for?

 

I may not be feeling quite that brave after having two threads closed.:tongue_smilie:

 

How do you think I feel? I still don't know what I want to use for history next yr, & now I'm scared to ask! :lol:

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Aside from Granda and the aggressive stationing of missiles in Britain and western Europe, nothing other than rhetoric is noted... the whole "Evil Empire" deal.

 

A paragraph is given to SDI in The Middle Road.

 

In The United States in the Cold War, Iran-Contra makes another appearance, this time saying "the record seems to show that Reagan knew and approved of the operation. Many of his officials were eventually indicted for crimes committed in the affair but Reagan was never charged."

 

and later... (after a bit about Gorbachev):

"Summit meetings between Reagan and Gorbachev were arranged. Surprisingly, Ronald Reagan for all his thunderings about the evil empire, began to agree that the two systems could live together. He tended to think in terms of personalities, rather than ideas, and took to the warm, outgoing Gorbachev. Some progress was made toward getting rid of nuclear weapons."

 

Later: "Why did the Sovet Union collapse so swiftly?"

 

"In part it was due to the pressure of the Cold War itself, which required those enormous expenditures for military power. The Soviet industrial machine was simply not capable of producing as much as the American one did." [snip more depth and detail]

 

"Most Socialist nations nationalized only the most basic industries ... The Soviets tried to run the whole thing." [examples of poor organization and central planning]

 

"Finally, under Soviet communism few people worked their hardest." [explains why and ends with the joke "We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us."

 

-- another reason was the gap between the lifestyle of officials "while everybody else struggled"

 

-- "prosperity of the Western democracies was the envy of people in communist nations" [followed by two paragraphs of discussion]

 

-- "perhaps most important, the nature of capitalism had changed, at least in some respects" followed by a recap of the origin of communism and the working conditions of the time, compared and contrasted to better working conditions for those in modern democracies "often with much struggle" through "unions and the power of the vote."

 

Thank you for sharing that Moira.

 

I don't know how an objective historian could do much better than that. I still look forward to seeing the whole thing in context, but this is what I would have expected from the DoAH, and the Colliers brothers seem to have delivered.

 

Bill ( who really needs to go read "The Pilgrims and Puritans" )

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The problem is they almost try too hard to be objective so communism is just another form of government with equal validity and the US shouldn't have been so afraid of the communists.
The first chapter of the book examines the history of capitalism and communism. It doesn't neglect the extremely poor working conditions of many under capitalism in the 19th Century. Without this, it is not possible to understand the appeal to some of socialism and communism. There is some discussion about how the US was primed to reject communist ideals and ideas prior even to 1917 because "left-wing ideas that had been worked out in Europe were brought to the United States by immigrants, and seemed to many Americans "foreign ideas. For another reason, the newspapers, and later radio and television, which are, after all, owned by the capitalists, were resolutely opposed to communism." "depicting them as menaces"

 

The context for the unreasonable fear in the years immediately following 1917 was that there was little likelihood of a Communist overthrow in the US, or even in Western Europe... that if it "could happen there, it could happen here."

 

Lenin is in no way romanticized... and Stalin: "executed without remorse those who stood in his way" "peasants... were forced back onto "collective farms," huge ventures controlled from Moscow. Agricultural and industrial policies led to the death by starvation of millions more. By the 1930's Stalin's control was complete."

 

It does say that by the 30's "the majority of Russians were better off than they had been under the czars [and that's a low bar!]." "Things were unquestionably better, although the USSR never achieved the kind of prosperity that people in the Western democracies took for granted. And of course, political freedoms ... were almost entirely absent." Edited to add: The time period being discussed is from the early 30's to WWII.

 

Capitalism gets bashed left and right and Reagan gets no credit for anything.
I simple don't see the capitalism bashing. Its history isn't varnished, but it's treated as a dynamic, not static idea... as it should be. Here's the last paragraph of the book:

 

"Although economic inequality remains a prominent characteristic of American society, with far too many families too poor to live adequately, American-style capitalism has delivered much of what Soviet-style communism only promised."

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I'm almost typed out... but just wanted to touch on the abortion bit...

 

Slavery is a respect of life issue, but abortion is just an unwanted pregnancy
I don't see this. Did you mean affirmative action? The only mentions I see of abortion in the entire series are in the first chapter of Middle Road, which discusses the history of the two party system, "activist" and "states rights," "conservative" and "liberal," "Democrat" and "Republican" and how they changed over time.

 

"Even the people who belong to the same party do not always agree with each other. At times there is much scrapping within the party over which policies to follow."

 

There are exactly three mentions of abortion. Two of them are here:

 

 

 

"Some of the fighting between Democrats and Republicans in the last four decades of the twentieth century was over social issues. Democratic party leaders, in general, supported a woman's right to end an unwanted pregnancy; Republicans generally wanted strict limit, and many wanted abortion outlawed altogether."

 

 

[There is more discussion of divergent views on such issues as affirmative action, pornography, freedom of speech.]

 

The third:

 

 

 

"By no manner of means are all Democrats liberal, all Republicans conservative: many people in both parties are liberal on some issues, conservative on others. Confusing the matter even more, liberal and conservative philosophies are not altogether consistent: as we have seen, conservatives want more government control on abortion and pornography, less on the environment and business, the Democrats vice-versa. Yet the words liberal and conservative are so widely used today it is necessary that we understand them. Broadly speaking, then, the Democratic program as outlined above is termed liberal, the Republican one called conservative."

 

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Republicans -- don't care about clean water or clean air, but do want to keep pornography down

 

I see three mentions of pornography, the first two within the context of freedom of speech. One I quoted in a previous post, and the first sets that one up. The third talks about a faction of the Democratic Party pushing for fewer restrictions on such things as marijuana and pornographic literature prior to the 1972 elections.

 

FWIW, *I* found the treatment of Republicans to be far less simplistic than you do.

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I guess I just assume that there are always people on both sides of an issue that feel strongly about a certain policy. If a person picks up on the fact that the author agrees, then the book is a perfect fit. If the person picks up that the author disagrees, the book is not a perfect fit.

 

For example, there are those who see increasing the amount of money spent on social programs as good and those who see it as bad. I'm speaking very simplistically here, but I think you get the point.

 

When I read a textbook, and the author states that affirmative action programs are an improvement, the author has made a judgment call. When an author insists that a certain president was a good president, the author has made a judgment call. I think it's very hard for authors not to do this.

 

I lost a very long response to this, so here is a much shorter version. I don't want a history text that reinforces my "partisan" views. That is the last thing I'm looking for. I trained as a Political Scientist and a foreign policy analyst (and was recruited by Central Intelligence when I was at University, although I chose another path). I know the difference between playing the partisan and being fair-minded, impartial and trying to correct for ones bias.

 

In a history text I want the latter. I'd rather have a history text that was to my right (and try to correct for that) than have one that reinforced my own bias, as I'd find that really tiresome.

 

But that's why I'm so pleased with what I've read of DoAH thus far. It is as close to what I'd hope to present myself, using my considered judgement rather than playing partisan, which can be fun at times too.

 

It also pleases me that others whose partisan politics would fall quite a bit right of my own have found it valuable and speaking to them in their early reviews.

 

A person who wants materials that are highly partisan, or who want history to be tied to a particular "worldview" program may not find that DoAH meets their needs. But those of us seeking the closest thing we can find to objective history, and history that is well written, engaging and thought provoking has every reason to feel cheered by the "discovery" of this series.

 

I'm quite excited.

 

Bill

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I see three mentions of pornography, the first two within the context of freedom of speech. One I quoted in a previous post, and the first sets that one up. The third talks about a faction of the Democratic Party pushing for fewer restrictions on such things as marijuana and pornographic literature prior to the 1972 elections.

 

FWIW, *I* found the treatment of Republicans to be far less simplistic than you do.

 

Strange, you mention p*rnography, and the thread gets hit with p*rn spam, which I have reported.

 

Bill

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I completely understand why you posted the way you did. What's going to happen is, someone is going to point out what he or she feels are biases, and then others will try to convince the poster that he or she is wrong.

 

I guess I just assume that there are always people on both sides of an issue that feel strongly about a certain policy. If a person picks up on the fact that the author agrees, then the book is a perfect fit. If the person picks up that the author disagrees, the book is not a perfect fit.

 

This is just not how I see the previous discussions. Please understand, you *definitely* have a right to your own POV, I'm not saying you're wrong. I'm saying my perspective is different. I don't try to convince anyone that they are wrong. I seek to understand the POV of others (which many people WILL NOT state outright) and for others to understand my POV.

 

I absolutely *do not* seek a book that reflects my personal views. In fact, I stated in the thread that I have actively used books that were flagged in that thread.

 

What I actively avoid are books that insist you have to think a particular way in order to be a Christian. In fact, it's against Biblical principles to say such a thing.

 

The first chapter of the book examines the history of capitalism and communism. It doesn't neglect the extremely poor working conditions of many under capitalism in the 19th Century. Without this, it is not possible to understand the appeal to some of socialism and communism.

 

I'm from Oklahoma, it is probably currently one of the REDDEST states in the US. However, it was originally steeped in socialism, in worker's rights. At one time, the socialist party had a huge membership in Oklahoma. Our state motto is still "Labor omnia vincit." After the era of the robber barons? After the Great Depression? People were ready for a change. Things did change and for the better, at least for a while. But...people forget and we repeat history. eta: I'm not saying all of that to argue with anything or anyone specific, I'm just saying that there was a time that socialism was extremely attractive to people and for good reason. This Land Is Your Land is a socialist anthem, for example.

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I'm from Oklahoma, it is probably currently one of the REDDEST states in the US. However, it was originally steeped in socialism, in worker's rights. At one time, the socialist party had a huge membership in Oklahoma. Our state motto is still "Labor omnia vincit."

 

There is some small irony in Oklahoma having been one of the REDDEST states in the Union back when, and that it still is. It's just that the definition of RED has changed ;)

 

Bill

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There is some small irony in Oklahoma having been one of the REDDEST states in the Union back when, and that it still is. It's just that the definition of RED has changed ;)

 

Bill

 

Good point! :D

 

Although, back then people actually understood the difference between Communism and Socialism, unlike certain partisan commentators. Sorry, I tried to hold it in. :tongue_smilie:

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I'd like to read what they say about Ronald Reagan. I'm a little older than some of you, and was studying Political Science at Berkeley at the time Mr Reagan was president.

 

You have just altered my mental image of you completely. Somehow I'd assumed you were a Gen-X'er, but you're a ... a ...:eek:

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This really doesn't help me. Have a little courage and let the debate begin. That's why we're here, to some degree. Maybe Bill more than the rest of us, LOL.

 

I'm considering them to use for a logic-stage kid, not grammar-stage. I can't imagine using these with a second grader. The reading level's too high.

 

I'm politically conservative, so can you at least tell us whether they're more, less, or about the same in bias level and direction as Hakim?

 

My local library only had two of the DoAH books on hand, and I found one in the library bookstore. That's it. Do you honestly expect me to read every single title, cover to cover, when I can't get my hands on more than one or two without going through ILL? What if the ones I saw don't have the problems you're claiming are there? I don't have time for that! I have five kids, and I barely have enough time or energy to read anything for myself, much less choose books that I need to procure, plan, and schedule to use only a few weeks from now.

 

Stop wasting our time with the cloak-and-dagger routine.

 

Why so harsh on the OP? Perhaps a shy "heads-up" was all she had in mind? :confused:

 

Not everyone wants to engage in debate.

 

And, FWIW, this in not a debate forum. This is the K-8 Curriculum Forum, and the OP simply made a comment about a set of books marketed to educators of students at these levels. Caveat emptor. That is all.

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I never read any of the other threads referred to here on this thread, so I have no idea what you're talking about in regard to them. I am referring to statements I've seen similar to those the OP made and how they turn into a debate about issues rather than the original intent of the OP which was just a simple warning.

 

We argue about the current state of affairs, though most of it has been banned, so there's no reason we wouldn't argue about how administrations handled those same issues through history. That's my point. One day, Obama's health care plan will be written in a textbook, and the author is going to have a hard time not having an opinion about that.

 

If you are an atheist, you would most likely not want to read Christian Liberty Press history textbooks, because they are providential in nature. (For what it's worth, I cannot read them either).

 

 

 

This is just not how I see the previous discussions. Please understand, you *definitely* have a right to your own POV, I'm not saying you're wrong. I'm saying my perspective is different. I don't try to convince anyone that they are wrong. I seek to understand the POV of others (which many people WILL NOT state outright) and for others to understand my POV.

 

I absolutely *do not* seek a book that reflects my personal views. In fact, I stated in the thread that I have actively used books that were flagged in that thread.

 

What I actively avoid are books that insist you have to think a particular way in order to be a Christian. In fact, it's against Biblical principles to say such a thing.

 

 

 

I'm from Oklahoma, it is probably currently one of the REDDEST states in the US. However, it was originally steeped in socialism, in worker's rights. At one time, the socialist party had a huge membership in Oklahoma. Our state motto is still "Labor omnia vincit." After the era of the robber barons? After the Great Depression? People were ready for a change. Things did change and for the better, at least for a while. But...people forget and we repeat history. eta: I'm not saying all of that to argue with anything or anyone specific, I'm just saying that there was a time that socialism was extremely attractive to people and for good reason. This Land Is Your Land is a socialist anthem, for example.

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Well, (thanks for the details Moira) you all just about have me convinced to use this series. It sounds fabulous.

 

I have a bunch of them here from the library.........but I wanted to say that you all have certainly put the DRAMA back into DRAMA of American History.;)

 

:smilielol5: Edited by Lovedtodeath
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Castro -- If the US had been more understanding Cuba might be a democratic country today

 

 

 

"Despite everything, the United States and Cuba remained enemies until the end of the twentieth century, and beyond. Some historians today believe that had American leaders been more tolerant of Castra, who would not after all, have mounted a serious threat to the United States, he might not have turned to the Soviets for support, and Cuba would perhaps be a more democratic nation than it is."

 

 

Reagan -- widen the gap between rich and poor

 

 

 

"Taken together [increase in military spending, reduction in social programs, tax increase for the middle and low income families (Social Security taxes), and a tax cut for the wealthy], the net effect was to increase the already rising gap in wealth between the rich and the poor. The top fifth of Americans were four times richer than the bottom fifth when Reagan became president in 1981, but five times richer in 1990. In that year the poorest 20 percent of households own 7 percent of household wealth, while the richest 20 percent owned 44 percent. (One constant, however, is that the wealthiest were also those with the most education.)"

 

 

George W. Bush -- implied that the only reason he won the election from Gore was because his father had appointed two of the people on the Supreme Court

 

 

 

"Both sides appealed to state and federal cours to resolve the issue. Ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court (where two of the justices had been appointed by Bush's father), in a five to four decision gave the election to Bush."

 

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"Despite everything, the United States and Cuba remained enemies until the end of the twentieth century, and beyond. Some historians today believe that had American leaders been more tolerant of Castra, who would not after all, have mounted a serious threat to the United States, he might not have turned to the Soviets for support, and Cuba would perhaps be a more democratic nation than it is."

 

 

 

"Taken together [increase in military spending, reduction in social programs, tax increase for the middle and low income families (Social Security taxes), and a tax cut for the wealthy], the net effect was to increase the already rising gap in wealth between the rich and the poor. The top fifth of Americans were four times richer than the bottom fifth when Reagan became president in 1981, but five times richer in 1990. In that year the poorest 20 percent of households own 7 percent of household wealth, while the richest 20 percent owned 44 percent. (One constant, however, is that the wealthiest were also those with the most education.)"

 

 

 

"Both sides appealed to state and federal cours to resolve the issue. Ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court (where two of the justices had been appointed by Bush's father), in a five to four decision gave the election to Bush."

 

 

Thank you nmoira, I definitely see the bias.

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Thank you nmoira, I definitely see the bias.

 

I don't see it myself. Nothing there is factually incorrect, and Castro's Cuba had been discussed in some depth prior to the summing up (the quote is from The United States in the Cold War). How many US presidents have there been since Castro came to power? ;) The gap between the rich and poor did increase under Reagan, and deficits did soar.

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Bill Clinton -- everything he did was good except for some problems in his personal life

 

Brief biography. Clinton is depicted as a highly intelligent, politically astute man who understood that "the American voter did not like political extremes." "He aimed his policies at dead center, among other things taking over the Republicans' long term preference for small government.

 

Talks about welfare, support of business in the context of the global economy... programs all favoured by Republicans.

 

But was also a supporter of pollution controls "which Republicans considered an interference with business," affirmative action, the environment "putting aside millions of acres of undeveloped land, a program bitterly fought by the oil, mining, timber, and ranching industries."

 

 

 

"Perhaps Clinton's most important legacy was the reduction of the annual deficit, even producing a surplus some years, which allowed the nation to start paying off the huge national debt. In part of course, this was a matter of chance: during the Clinton presidency the nation enjoyed a record-breaking run of prosperous years, with the country's wealth increasing at an astonishing pace." [discussion continues]

 

 

 

 

"Clinton's time in the White House, however, was profoundly marred by a lack of good sense in his private life."

 

 

 

"lied under oath"

 

 

 

 

"He then had to face trial in the Senate. The Constitution permits the president's removal only for "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors." A majority of Senators did not think that Clinton's immorality constituted such a high level of crime and voted to acquit him."

 

 

 

"Nevertheless, this scandal which degraded the president and embarrassed the nation, undermined Clinton's effectiveness during the last two years of his administration and probably tarnish forever his historical reputation."

 

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Thank you nmoira, I definitely see the bias.

 

 

I see it too, it's there. There is a lot more to the financial picture than the things that are mentioned, a lot more. Having said that, I don't think that the bias would preclude my using the books. In this example I see a great lead in to discussions of economics and that sometimes people oversimplify because either they don't fully understand, or it better suits their political leanings, or both. We all have an agenda, we all have a bias, I think it would be very difficult to eliminate it entirely when writing and you would lose flavor if you did so. In all our studies, I expect our discussion and range of materials/books to present a wide range of views and ideas. I think that in order to be educated you have to be able to look at and think through different views than your own. You should know why you believe the way you do.

 

JMO, and before coffee so maybe clearer thoughts will occur later.

 

Noelle

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"Despite everything, the United States and Cuba remained enemies until the end of the twentieth century, and beyond. Some historians today believe that had American leaders been more tolerant of Castra, who would not after all, have mounted a serious threat to the United States, he might not have turned to the Soviets for support, and Cuba would perhaps be a more democratic nation than it is."

How do they *know* Castro wouldn't have mounted a serious threat? America seems to think she is untouchable until after the fact. How could they be sure?

"Taken together [increase in military spending, reduction in social programs, tax increase for the middle and low income families (Social Security taxes), and a tax cut for the wealthy], the net effect was to increase the already rising gap in wealth between the rich and the poor. The top fifth of Americans were four times richer than the bottom fifth when Reagan became president in 1981, but five times richer in 1990. In that year the poorest 20 percent of households own 7 percent of household wealth, while the richest 20 percent owned 44 percent. (One constant, however, is that the wealthiest were also those with the most education.)"

This may be factually correct but started before Reagan and continued after. I don't see this quote as a problem assuming that is addressed.

"Both sides appealed to state and federal cours to resolve the issue. Ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court (where two of the justices had been appointed by Bush's father), in a five to four decision gave the election to Bush."

 

Again it is all factual but not telling me who appointed the other 7 justices is leaving out vital information. What are they trying to say if not 'that's why Bush won'?

 

IMO will never be a history text without some bias. How could there be? This is not a deal breaker for me but something I like to know.

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I see it too, it's there. There is a lot more to the financial picture than the things that are mentioned, a lot more. Having said that, I don't think that the bias would preclude my using the books.

 

The quotes I included in response to others were primarily an attempt to reflect the text I think the other posters were referring to. With the exception of Bush Jr. (about whom there is very little because the book only covers through the year 2000) these are not the sum total of discussion.

Edited by nmoira
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The gap between the rich and poor did increase under Reagan, and deficits did soar.

 

There is a difference between stating that something happened during a particular time period in history versus saying it is the result of a president's policies. Once you venture into cause/effect you are giving your opinion. And even deficits...no president operates in a vacuum. The President can't make the deficit soar without the cooperation of the Senate and House. I'm really not trying to argue politics. It's just that when a history book artfully connects events that happened during a particular president's term in an effort to pin all the bad things that happened on him....well, this is where we can find bias. And bias is in the eye of the beholder.

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It's just that when a history book artfully connects events that happened during a particular president's term in an effort to pin all the bad things that happened on him....well, this is where we can find bias. And bias is in the eye of the beholder.

:)

 

I'm not sure you can cut taxes to the rich and raise taxes for the poor and not have it affect the wealth gap. (This isn't from the book): FWIW, for about 40 years, the share of the wealth enjoyed by the top 1% was essentially flat. It was only after Reagan's cuts kicked in that it started to rise, and dramatically.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Share_top_1%25.jpg

 

And I think the Colliers do an excellent job of laying broader context without delving into minutiae. From The Middle Road:

 

"President Reagan was not responsible for all this debt. Part of it was caused by programs begun back in the 1930's like Social Security and in the 1960's like Medicare, which could not be stopped."

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I think that anything after about 1900 or so is going to be difficult to present in a way that all sides would consider "unbiased." Frankly, if this were 1870, we'd be arguing about whether or not the Civil War and the events leading up to it were covered in an unbiased fashion. Now it's universal in history texts to come at that whole era with the understanding that slavery was wrong.

 

What's given scant attention in the history books I've read for kids/teens is the reasons for the rise of communism in the first place, the ideals of that movement, and what a true communist system would look like. The ideals of communism in its pure Marxist sense were perverted by power hungry megalomaniacs. What we saw with the Soviet Union and other communist states was not true communism. An interesting and important discussion would be about human nature tending toward a system where a limited number of individuals gain power for themselves no matter what the social structure is. We have the same issues here under capitalism, it's just that we believe that anyone can prosper given the chance. But is this really true? The problems associated with human nature pervade any social system, including systems of government and economy, and if you look closely enough you'll find them everywhere.

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IIRC, when SpyCar recommended this series, it was as an alternative to books with a conservative bias. So we had to know that conservatives would be unhappy with them. I'm guessing the OP objects to something about feminism and abortion, LGBT rights, or Presidents Bush & Reagan. Maybe it teaches about Stonewall? That would be awesome!

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IIRC, when SpyCar recommended this series, it was as an alternative to books with a conservative bias. So we had to know that conservatives would be unhappy with them. I'm guessing the OP objects to something about feminism and abortion, LGBT rights, or Presidents Bush & Reagan. Maybe it teaches about Stonewall? That would be awesome!

 

I thought it was as an alternative to A History of US.

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We argue about the current state of affairs, though most of it has been banned, so there's no reason we wouldn't argue about how administrations handled those same issues through history. That's my point. One day, Obama's health care plan will be written in a textbook, and the author is going to have a hard time not having an opinion about that.

 

 

Right. But one could (in the future) write about this episode as a partisan (or even hyper-partisan) and depending on whose side one took start accusing one side of being indifferent to the poor and working class, or the other as socialists who wanted to undermine the spirit of American freedom and unfettered Capitalism (or worse).

 

Or

 

One could present the problem as best they could. With an aging population, increased life expectancy, advances in medicine that often come with higher costs, global competition putting pressure on businesses to cap costs (threatening the employer based insurance model, insurance industry practices (such as "pre-existing conditions") that lead to people not being insured, and the soaring percentage of our GDP that is taken up by health care, motivating a "general consensus" that something had to be done.

 

Then you could lay out the solutions favored by the two major parties. Mention that many Democrats would have preferred a single-payer option (that was not included due to Republican and some conservative Democratic opposition. And that Republicans would have preferred more solutions like capping Malpractice and leglislating Tort reform, and allowing things such as national competition between insurance companies which can only operate in a single state under the current rules. Things like that.

 

One would need to "expand", but it is possible to present the perspective and principles of both sides in a fashion both would feel represents what they hold true as political values.

 

Then one describes a fairly as possible the impact the legislation had on the nation retrospectively.

 

It can done.

 

Bill

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IIRC, when SpyCar recommended this series, it was as an alternative to books with a conservative bias. So we had to know that conservatives would be unhappy with them. I'm guessing the OP objects to something about feminism and abortion, LGBT rights, or Presidents Bush & Reagan. Maybe it teaches about Stonewall? That would be awesome!

 

I saw these as an alternative to Joy Hakim. Despite many tries, I never have been able to get far in her series, because the patronizing tone and inefficentcy of her verbiage (I find myself re-writing her as I read) cause me too much frustration to continue. The little that I did get through did seem to suffer from some of that PC/public school flavor that I don't like anymore than your average homeschooler.

 

A person who was looking for a "providential" history text would not find it in DoAH. But nor is it Howard Zinn.

 

I believe DoAH will be useful (and highly valued) by a broad cross-section of home educators across the political mainstream (from conservative to liberal). As long as they are seeting "balanced" and academic materials. If they are looking for partisan texts to build up their side (right or left) without presenting the other side of the coin, this series is not what they are looking for.

 

For myself, they have been as close to perfect as I could reasonably hope to come. And I hope many others reach the same conclusion.

 

Bill

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I thought it was as an alternative to A History of US.

 

I suggested these a while back when someone (Bill?) asked if there wasn't something out there for the secular or non-conservative folk other than Hakim. So, it was as both an alternative to Christian-worldview or Providential US history, and as an alternative to Hakim. There seem to be lots of options in the former category, but it seemed Hakim was the only one being floated in the latter.

 

I have not used these - my kids were too young - but when I was perusing the library stacks I found them and thought they looked so much more appealing than Hakim, so I floated them as something people might want to look at - not a recommendation, but a possible interesting alternative.

 

It's been fun reading all the responses! I'm thinking I might well use these for my younger, if she's still middle-school aged when we get back to US history. (I have a track record of taking waaay more time than I planned to get through a history rotation...) At any rate, now I won't have to pre-read these so carefully if I do. :D

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I don't see it myself. Nothing there is factually incorrect, and Castro's Cuba had been discussed in some depth prior to the summing up (the quote is from The United States in the Cold War). How many US presidents have there been since Castro came to power? ;) The gap between the rich and poor did increase under Reagan, and deficits did soar.

 

I think this gets to the heart of the problem. I do see a problem with it because of my world view, as does the other poster, and because of your world view, it seems perfectly reasonable. There is no way to look through someone else's eyes and completely remove your background and history and beliefs. I read other posters concerns and completely understand what they are talking about but you seem confused by why it bothers them, not because they are right, or you are, but because of how we view the world. So, someone with a conservative view point will see the statements about Castro as problematic and not completely accurate. To me what he did/does and who he is, is bad and it isn't the USs or big businesses fault. And his revolution was not to try to get Cuba back for the little people and Che Guavera (sp) was an evil man. To me those are facts based on my view and study of history. Others may believe that history might have played out differently if...and I don't think going over the details and refuting and rebutting will change any of that. I think the OP was just warning people that if you see the world "this way", you will have some problems with these books, and *I* agree because I have some of the same opinions that she does and could immediately see what she was talking about.

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I think that anything after about 1900 or so is going to be difficult to present in a way that all sides would consider "unbiased." Frankly, if this were 1870, we'd be arguing about whether or not the Civil War and the events leading up to it were covered in an unbiased fashion. Now it's universal in history texts to come at that whole era with the understanding that slavery was wrong.

 

 

With intention, the first book in the series I read was the one dealing with the lead up to the Civil War. I could not have been more impressed!

 

I think a conservative family living in the South with ancestors who fought on the side of the Confereracy could use those with their children and feel the events that lead to the war were well explained. That their ancestors positions were presented fairly, and that they were treated with respect.

 

And that a liberal family who tended to look at slavery and racism though contemporary-eyes, would also gain a broader understanding of the whole picture, while not finding the institution of slavery soft-soaped.

 

This is not easy to pull off. Especially without revolving into pablum. But the Colliers brothers have taken an "academic" approach one expects to find in the best University-level texts, and simplifies the scope to meet the needs of middle schooler (or late elementary) students.

 

It is pretty great for adults too.

 

Bill

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Interesting that you would post this today. My boys are young (the oldest is 8) and we're just barely getting started on American history. I found the discussions about this series fascinating. I knew my mom had been studying AH with my 8th grade niece and wasn't liking the Hakim books, so I mentioned these books to her. I read the titles to her and she immediately asked me to order Progressivism, the Great Depression, and the New Deal (1901-1941), because that would be a huge clue about the viewpoints of the authors. I also ordered The Middle Road: American Politics (1945-2000). They arrived yesterday and, skimming through both but particularly the first, quite a few things jumped out at me. I haven't been studying about the time period, though, and she has been doing a lot of digging and researching, so it will be very interesting to see what she thinks.

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So, someone with a conservative view point will see the statements about Castro as problematic and not completely accurate.
The statement was of the effect that today "some historians believe." It put forth a point of view, and it wasn't the only one put forth in the section on Cuba. That some historians do believe this is not a matter of controversy.

 

And on that note... I'm outta here.. the sun (finally) beckons and my kids are dying to try out their new bikes.

:D

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So, someone with a conservative view point will see the statements about Castro as problematic and not completely accurate. To me what he did/does and who he is, is bad and it isn't the USs or big businesses fault. And his revolution was not to try to get Cuba back for the little people and Che Guavera (sp) was an evil man. To me those are facts based on my view and study of history.

 

Facts about Che Guevara would include events, dates, places, his own writings, etc. Saying that he (or anyone else) is "an evil man" is an opinion, not a fact. Once an author starts deciding for the reader who is "evil" and who is "good," it can quickly devolve into stronger judgements (e.g. Mormons are shifty, idle, liars; Native Americans were blood-thirty savages, etc.)

 

The Drama of American History was suggested as a well-written, secular American History series, so by definition it's not going to be written from a conservative Christian POV. There are many, many texts to choose from for those who want US history explicitly written from that perspective. For secular homeschoolers, this series sounds like an excellent alternative to Hakim.

 

Jackie

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I want a well written history book that reflects my values to some extent especially with regard to the topics that are covered. Omissions are very important and telling as well as unsupported conclusions. If, for example a history book that purports to be a record of the 20th century paints McCarthyism as a cultural blip or fails to even mention the communist purges of the time it is not acceptable for use in my house. Anything written by Howard Zinn is fine for my family as we discuss each and every position promulgated by the editorial power of the author. We also read a number of other texts for American history by N. Philbrick, Ken Burns, Shelby Foote, Arthur Schlesinger etc.We also use many autobiographical texts particularly about civil rights including the rights of all humans to be treated equally before the law whether they are hetero or homosexual/transgendered. I would never want a history textbook that is bland and more importantly , so unwilling to take a position and provide evidence of some sort for that position. That is the fundamental task of critical thinking , to be able to entertain an idea, follow it to its conclusion and then decide whether the evidence for the position taken is logical, moral, immoral, illogical or logical and still completely unethical ,lacking in any sound reason and so on . If you are not doing these things in some fashion it seems pointless to me, regardless of your political persuasion , to bother with educating your dc . If your discussions are only to reiterate the points made by the author in the book then you are teaching your dc to respond to what they think you want to hear rather than engaging them in discussion and debate about issues.

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I'm sorry I phrased things in a harsh way.

 

I'll venture a guess--any of the recent wars? Gay marriage? Health care? If you just think about what divides us the most & recent history, I bet you'll be pretty close to OP's point.

 

How conservative is the OP? I don't know. She doesn't post much. Maybe she's so far to the right of me, we wouldn't be looking for the same thing in a history book anyway. There are only a few people on this board whom I "know" well enough to use their general opinions as a gauge either for or against a curriculum. But in all cases, I prefer more specific critiques.

 

Which issues? Not sure I even want a middle school history book dealing with gay marriage. And to what degree are they biased (like I mentioned in my pp)? Is it standard center-left pabulum, common to most kids' history books, or is it so far off the deep end that I don't even want to consider it?

 

Year 4 history I can handle -- I've got a book of Reagan's speeches, I'm within driving distance of the Reagan Library, and I have access to all kinds of conservative books and periodicals.

 

With less-recent time periods, it's a little harder for me. Does a history book show the Progressives as righteous crusaders, or is it more balanced? Does it dare portray FDR as anything less than a political saint? (OTOH, I don't want to lie to my kids and tell them the Founders were all Christians, either.)

 

I'm glad the OP found some specific items from these books that she could cite. That helps people who don't have easy access to the books to preview. I can understand that she didn't want a firestorm to erupt based on her post, because it's far too easy for a discussion about a history book to devolve into the standard left-right shouting match. That's not helpful. But if she had just come out with specific items from the start, I would have been one of the first people to defend her choice to do so.

 

I'm under the delusion that we're here to help one another by exchanging information. This is helpful in two ways.

 

There are so many choices out there, it's hard to whittle them down to the right choice for our own families. Sometimes these discussions become debates, but as long as we remain civil, debate is generally a healthy thing (especially for those of us who don't get much in the way of deep adult conversation).

 

The other way it helps is in saving time and wasted effort. If I can help a mom with a specific explanation of why R&S English didn't work for us, for example, then maybe I've helped save her from hours spent "reinventing the wheel" in a curriculum search.

 

Just the other day, some moms saved me from plunking down money to look at K12's Hakim-companion products for American History. They said I wouldn't be able to adapt it for use with a different spine. Specific. Helpful.

 

So here's a question, as a follow-up to the OP, what would be a well-written, easy-to-use, affordable center-right spine for logic-stage American history? Does one even exist? What would the OP suggest as an alternative? (Now THAT would be helpful.)

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I think the OP was just warning people that if you see the world "this way", you will have some problems with these books, and *I* agree because I have some of the same opinions that she does and could immediately see what she was talking about.

 

:iagree: Yup, yup. I think this was what the OP was trying to point out. From the segments I've read in this thread I wouldn't be able to use this series for modern times without lots and lots of discussion. I already own Hakim's series (heavy sigh), so this series wouldn't add anything to our home library.

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I want a well written history book that reflects my values to some extent especially with regard to the topics that are covered. Omissions are very important and telling as well as unsupported conclusions. If, for example a history book that purports to be a record of the 20th century paints McCarthyism as a cultural blip or fails to even mention the communist purges of the time it is not acceptable for use in my house. Anything written by Howard Zinn is fine for my family as we discuss each and every position promulgated by the editorial power of the author. We also read a number of other texts for American history by N. Philbrick, Ken Burns, Shelby Foote, Arthur Schlesinger etc.We also use many autobiographical texts particularly about civil rights including the rights of all humans to be treated equally before the law whether they are hetero or homosexual/transgendered. I would never want a history textbook that is bland and more importantly , so unwilling to take a position and provide evidence of some sort for that position. That is the fundamental task of critical thinking , to be able to entertain an idea, follow it to its conclusion and then decide whether the evidence for the position taken is logical, moral, immoral, illogical or logical and still completely unethical ,lacking in any sound reason and so on . If you are not doing these things in some fashion it seems pointless to me, regardless of your political persuasion , to bother with educating your dc . If your discussions are only to reiterate the points made by the author in the book then you are teaching your dc to respond to what they think you want to hear rather than engaging them in discussion and debate about issues.
Very good points.

 

Which issues? Not sure I even want a middle school history book dealing with gay marriage. And to what degree are they biased (like I mentioned in my pp)? Is it standard center-left pabulum, common to most kids' history books, or is it so far off the deep end that I don't even want to consider it?

 

The companies that I plan to use have Hakim for High School. This text would be a sub for Hakim, therefore it would be used in High School. I think that the majority of TWTM followers (and TWTM book itself) tend towards high school level work in middle school.
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